“If you listen to directional versus wide dispersion speakers the latter will present a much deeper, wider, higher image which is our goal.” Given the size of the EB1i I was surprised that it doesn’t have higher sensitivity than its specified 89dB at 4 ohms: “We sacrifice sensitivity to the drivers and to the fourth order crossover in order to achieve a more neutral result. I can’t say that sensitivity is such a high priority because people who buy speakers like this tend to be able to afford powerful amplifiers. With the smaller models we go for the maximum sensitivity that can be achieved.”
Installing the EB1i in place of the more expensive B&W 802D brought about a fairly big change in balance. Essentially the midrange seemed more prominent, a factor that had a dramatic effect on albums like Gillian Welch’s Time The Revelator. This recording has often hinted at a slight edginess but in the PMC’s hands became almost uncomfortable due to that exposure through the midband. Conversely material that had seemed a little dense or thick in the past opens up to reveal a wealth of detail and space, Fink’s Biscuits For Breakfast being a prime example. The title track was transformed into a far more revealing piece and his take on ‘All Cried Out’ seems far more cutting and powerful.
The EB1i sounds more efficient than the specs suggest, which is probably because of the TL factor, the bass is seemingly more open and easy than usual, almost as if it doesn’t require as much effort on the amplifier’s behalf. As the power amp being used was a Classé CA-2200, reserves in the amperage department were unlikely to have been stretched anyhow, but it’s an interesting and appealing effect.
This low frequency ease reveals a lot of the stuff you aren’t supposed to hear, like people knocking a mic stand or tapping feet on a board floor. Of course it also makes full use of the sound that the mic is supposed to be capturing; the full-bodied timbre of a double bass and the heavy chug of dub are both delivered in convincing and unforced fashion. I particularly enjoyed Tosca’s marvellously named Chocolate Elvis with its heavy manipulating of the nether notes. But whilst this is the sort of speaker that has you digging out discs that have “great bass” on other speakers, it can sometimes reveal that what had previously worked so well may well have been a result of bass distortion rather than the recording. With bass that’s as clean as the EB1i offers, you are getting a lot closer to the truth than most passive systems can reveal.